Airwar over Denmark

Airwar over Denmark

 By Søren C. Flensted

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Manchester I L7489 crashed at Marienborg 9/5-1942.


The aircraft belonged to RAF 50 Sqn. Bomber Command and was codet VN-?
T/O 21:47 Skellingsthorpe. OP: Warnemünde.


The Manchester crossed the Danish west coast north of the island of Sylt and flew on to the Heinkel works at Warnemünde. The attack was successfully carried out from 1500 feet even though flak was intense. After the bomb run the crew were not able to close the bomb doors and with these open it would not be possible to reach base. Course was set for Sweden via Denmark. The Manchester managed to climb to 4500 feet but was not able to maintain the altitude even with engines running at full power. The starboard engine and wiring caught fire and could not be put out, and when they approached the island of Møn they were down to 2000 ft.
Pilot Sgt Maurice Gruber ordered the crew to bail out when over the island.
The last of the crew to leave was Navigator/Bomb Aimer P/O H.F. Avery who told Gruber that he would leave through the rear hatch and leave the front hatch clear for Gruber.
Avery hurried down to the rear hatch and jumped out in a hurry as they were down to 500 feet. When his chute came out the harness hit him in the face and rendered him unconscious. He came too after about an hour.
The aircraft crashed in a field belonging to the “Marienborg” estate at 02:23 hours.

 


            (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


           (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


           (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


          (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


          (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


          (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


          (Via Michael Lauersen)

 


                                (Rufus Gruber)

Pilot Sgt Maurice Gruber



Sgt Maurice Gruber did not get out and fell to his dead with the aircraft. When the body was retrieved from the wreckage it was laid in a white coffin which was covered with flowers by the local people and taken to the chapel at Svinø cemetery.

 

 



On 13/5 Gruber was laid to rest. The local vicar officiated at the graveside ceremony which was attended by a German Guard of honour and representatives from the Danish police.

 


                      (Rufus Gruber)



During the morning the crew was found by the Danish police scattered over Møn and brought to the police station in Stege.
 
P/O Harald Frederick Avery RCAF was 06:30 found on Nøbøllegaard farm near Stege.
At 07:00 Sgt John Pearce and Sgt Sydney Garbutt were found at a farm belonging to Farmer Jantsen, Lerbæk, Askeby.
At 07:30 Sgt Donald Broadhead was found at a farm near Hjelm and at the same time Sgt Kenneth G.R.Johnson was found on a farm in Nr. Frenderup.
The last crewmember to be found was Sgt Richard Solomon who was located at 12:15 in Frenderup.
Later on the same day the flyers were handed over to Leutnant Detmar from the Luftwaffe based at Avnø airfield.
 
From Avnø the crew was sent to interrogation in Oberursel near Frankfurt. After a while they were all sent to Stalag Luft III Sagan where Avery and Garbutt stayed for the rest of the war.
Pearce, Broadhead, Johnson and Solomon were later transferred to Stalag Luft VI Heydekrug and on to Stalag 357 Thorn / Fallingbostel.

They all retuned to England after the war.

 

The original grave

 

Niece Jenny Weintroub and husband Sid from South Africa visited the grave in Svinø cemetery on 3/8 2008.


Sources: LBUK, RL 19/472, AS 17-46, OLCB, T501, BS, UA, Quistionaire For Returned Aircrew (Avery) via Richard Koval.


 

 

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